Perelandra

by

C. S. Lewis

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Perelandra: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ransom, too, falls before the King and Queen, calling them his Father and his Mother. It’s his first time seeing the King, and later, he can hardly describe the King’s face to Lewis—it feels almost “idolatrous” to look upon him. Yet, at the same time, it’s impossible to mistake the King for the One he resembles.
For Ransom, seeing the King and Queen is like seeing Adam and Eve at the beginning of Earth. Because the New Testament calls Christ the Second Adam, the implication here is that the King looks something like Jesus, which is why it’s an overwhelmingly powerful and humbling experience for Ransom to even look at him.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Ransom is so lost in wonder that he almost misses what the Oyarsa of Perelandra is saying. The Oyarsa grants all of Perelandra and its creatures into the keeping of the King and Queen. They should name the creatures, guide them, and rule over them with love. The King asks the Oyarsa to remain with them to counsel them for the time being, and Perelandra agrees.
The King and Queen are charged with the rule of Perelandra, and they welcome the continued presence and assistance of their planet’s Oyarsa.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
The King speaks again, saying that their children will always speak of Ransom, and he tells Ransom that in a certain sense, he is their Lord, because he has been the chief of Maleldil’s instruments, ensuring that they went up into perfection instead of down into corruption. He and the Queen insist that Ransom sit near them, facing the assembly.
Though Ransom isn’t a perfect parallel to Christ (after all, he’s a sinful human who is in need of redemption himself), his role on Perelandra nevertheless recalls Christ’s saving role on Earth.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
The Queen speaks, saying that now she understands why they were never permitted to live on the Fixed Land. The only reason she ever desired to live there was because she wished to “reject the wave”—to determine her own course instead of accepting what Maleldil sent. The King adds that now he and the Queen understand what evil is, but that they learned of it in a different way, not as the Evil One wanted them to learn. The Queen learned as Ransom saw, and the King’s journey was a separate one of learning from Maleldil on a faraway island.
The Queen, having resisted temptation, finally has her questions answered about the Fixed Land. Much as Eve was tempted to eat the forbidden fruit because of a desire for Godlike knowledge, the Lady wished to enjoy the unchanging security of life on the Fixed Land. Unlike Eve, though, the Lady comes to understand this in a sinless way. The King has a parallel experience, though it isn’t part of the story.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
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The King, Tor, proclaims that the Fixed Land will become a place dedicated to the splendor of Maleldil. He and the Queen, Tinidril, will fill Perelandra with their children, ennoble the beasts by teaching them, and someday tear the curtain of the sky asunder so that Deep Heaven can be seen. At that time, Maleldil will make them different creatures, something like eldila. When Ransom asks if that will be “the end,” Tor is surprised. Rather, he explains, they will only be approaching the beginning of all things.
The Fixed Land will now occupy the place of greatest importance on Perelandra, a place of Maleldil’s worship. Despite all of the King’s and Queen’s plans for their world, these are only a prelude to Maleldil’s greater plans for the universe as a whole.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
At that time, however, the matter of Thulcandra will have to be dealt with. Its siege must be relieved. Maleldil himself will go down to the planet, along with many others like the King. All the evils of the world will be shown plainly for what they are, and they will be completely cleansed so that the world is made new. The false start, Tor explains, will be cleared away so that the world can begin as it was meant to.
Perelandra will someday play a role in the rescue and restoration of Thulcandra, or Earth. Much as events on Earth laid the groundwork for Perelandra’s preservation, Perelandra will someday contribute to Earth’s reclaimed innocence.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
Temptation and the Nature of Evil Theme Icon
Ransom is baffled by all this. He had always understood that when Maleldil became man, that was the central happening of all the universe. And what does this mean for all the other worlds, like Malacandra? Ransom wonders what it’s all driving toward. Tor explains that it will be “The beginning of the Great Game” or the “Great Dance.”
Ransom struggles to grasp the vastness of Maleldil’s plans for the universe. All of it—Mars, Venus, the life of Christ on Earth—is part of a greater cosmic plan of which Ransom has gotten only glimpses.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
At this point, the five of them—the eldila, the King and Queen, and Ransom—enter into a series of speeches. They speak of the Great Dance which has always existed; the endless beauty of Maleldil’s creation and Maleldil’s plan for every creature; and the fact that wherever Maleldil is, that is the center of all things. All of Maleldil’s plans interlock in the Great Dance, each small part a microcosm of the whole of the design. Each speech concludes with the acclamation, “Blessed be He!”
Seemingly orchestrated by Maleldil himself, everyone present proclaims Maleldil’s goodness—a worshipful ritual that brings the ceremony and the story’s events to a climax. The blessedness of Maleldil is the point of all that happens.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Ransom thinks that, at this point, he didn’t just hear but actually saw a glimpse of the Great Dance in many cords of interwoven light. He is never able to fully describe the sort of vision he experiences, but when he comes back from it, the eldila are gone, and so are the animals. He and the King and Queen are still in the valley. They tell Ransom that an entire year has elapsed since they first met in this valley.
The speeches go on for a long time, actually taking up the bulk of Ransom’s time on Perelandra, though Ransom isn’t conscious of it. Ransom’s ecstatic, visionary experience hints that in eternity—Maleldil’s realm—time doesn’t pass in the same way as it does on Earth, and creatures like Random won’t be subjected to its limits.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
The Queen says that soon the eldila will be coming to take Ransom back to his world. The King notices Ransom’s bleeding foot and insists on washing it for him in the pool. Soon, the eldila arrive, in the form of barely discernible lights. Ransom climbs into the casket, and Tor and Tinidril gather red lilies which they use to cover his face. They kiss him goodbye and bless him. Then the lid is fixed onto the coffin, and Ransom loses consciousness.
The King’s insistence on washing Ransom’s foot, an act of loving servanthood, recalls Christ’s washing his disciples’ feet in the Gospel of John. The character of the King and Queen is exemplified by their tenderness and kindness to a creature lower than themselves. These events—a glimpse of a world untouched by selfishness—are Ransom’s final memories before he is carried back to Earth to resume the spiritual battle by other means.
Themes
Exploration, Wonder, and God’s Plan Theme Icon
Innocence and Incorruption Theme Icon
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